Sunday, February 27, 2011

指鹿为马 zhǐ lù wéi mǎ

指鹿为马 zhǐ lù wéi mǎ

to call a stag a horse; to confuse right and wrong; to talk black into white

[call a stag a horse—deliberately misrepresent]
Early into the reign of Qin Ershi 秦二世, the second Qin emperor, there was an insidious and treacherous Prime Minister named Zhao Gao 赵高. By the time Qin Ershi had ascended to the throne, he had usurped much of the real power of the royal court.

Greedy people are never content. He wanted to further consolidate his power and wanted to depose Qin Ershi while his grip on the throne was still weak. Zhao Gao’s goal was to become emperor himself.

He wanted to test the waters before he attempted a coup, so he devised a clever test to see where the other ministers stood.

One day, when Qin Ershi had all of his officials present with him, Zhao Gao presented a gift to the Emperor. “Your Majesty, I wish to present you with this fine horse”.

“Horse? What horse? That’s a stag, not a horse!” Qin Ershi exclaimed. “How can you call that animal a horse?!”

“But Your Majesty, I assure you, it is indeed a horse,” answered Zhao Gao.

“That’s absurd! Since when did horses grow antlers?” retorted the Emperor.

“This is a horse. But why don’t we ask our illustrious ministers to identify this fine beast. Gentlemen, is this a stag or a horse?”

Attitudes among these officials varied. Some wanted Zhao Gao’s favor, “Oh, it is definitely a horse!” Others were too cowardly to say anything. Some honest ministers saw through the Prime Minister’s intentions, disagreed and said, “No! It is a stag!”

Now that Zhao Gao knew who supported him, he went on a campaign to discredit the honest officials and removed them from power, one by one. These ministers eventually became so fearful of him that it was no problem for him to have someone assassinate Qin Ershi.

Now, the idiom, 指鹿为马 means to intentionally mix up facts, by calling good “bad” and bad “good”. It means to intentionally and maliciously to confuse truth with fiction.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

望梅止渴 (wang mei zhi ke)

望梅止渴 (wang mei zhi ke)

"quenching thirst by watching plums"

(comfort oneself by idle dreams)

Cao Cao of the Three Kingdoms period (220-265) was not only a capable politician in managing state affairs, but also a strategist good at leading troops in going to war.

One summer, Cao Cao was leading his troops in a punitive expedition against Zhang Xiu. It was extraordinarily hot. The burning sun was like a fire, and the sky was cloudless. The soldiers were walking on the winding mountain paths. The dense forest and the hot rocks exposed to the sun on both sides of the paths made the soldiers feel suffocated. By noontime the soldiers' clothes were wet through with sweat, and the marching speed slowed down. Some solders of weak physique even fainted on the roadside.

Seeing that the marching speed was slower and slower, Cao Cao was very worried because he feared that he might bungle the chance of winning the battle. But how could they quicken their speed? Cao Cao at once called the guide and asked him on the quiet whether there was a source of water nearby. The guide shook his head, saying that the spring water was on the other side of the mountain, which was very far to have to make a detour to reach. Cao Cao realized that time didn't permit them to make such a detour. After thinking for a moment, he said to the guide, "Keep quiet. I'll find a way out." He knew that it would be to no avail to order his troops to quicken the steps. He had a brain wave and found a good solution. He spurred his horse and came to the head of the column. Pointing his horsewhip to the front, Cao Cao said, "Soldiers, I know there is a big forest of plums ahead. The plums there are both big and delicious. let's hurry along, and we will reach the forest of plums after bypassing this hill." When the solders heard this, they immediately slobbered. Picturing in their minds the sweet and sour flavour of the plums, the soldiers felt as if they were actually eating the plums themselves. Their morale greatly boosted, the soldiers quickened their steps a great deal automatically.

This story comes from "The Fake Tangery" in Anecdotes of This World by Liu Yiqing of the Southern Dynasties period (420-589). From this story, people have derived the set phrase "quenching thirst by watching plums" to refer to trying to comfort oneself by idle dreams.

我爸是李刚 My father is Li Gang

In the evening on October 16, 2010, due to drunk driving and speeding, a black Volkswagen Magotan hit 2 female student pedestrians wearing roller shoes in front of a supermarket at Hebei University. The incident caused one death and one injured. After the incident, like nothing had happened, the driver continued to drive his girlfriend to school. He was then later stopped by number of students and school security guards on his way back. Surprisingly, the young man showed little remorse and fear, he shouted, “Go ahead, sue me if you dare, my dad is Li Gang”. The report of this incident immediately caused uproar in China’s online community.

These couple of days, the incident has caused widespread concerns of the netizens. Internet users expressed their anger towards the perpetrator on web. Posts condemning the perpetrator are seen everywhere. It is verified that the perpetrator’s father is the Public Security Bureau deputy director. On October 19, 2010, a new Internet catchphrase was born “My dad is Li Gang.” And the incident is also known as the “Li Gang gate”.

Corporal Forbes

Corporal Forbes India Cholera Morbus.

Anglicisation of the Latin: Cholera Morbus (perhaps some rhyming slang)

Corporal Forbes or the Corporal Forbes

. Cholera Morbus: Army (esp. in India): from 1820s. (Shipp’s Memoirs, 1829.) Y. & B.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

549 divide by 3

If the sum of the digits of a 3 digit number is divisible by 3 then the 3 digit number is divisible by 3.

549 = 18 / 3 = 6

549 / 3 = 183




Of, relating to, or being speech used to share feelings or to establish a mood of sociability rather than to communicate information or ideas.

Relating to a communication meant to generate an atmosphere of social relationship rather than to convey some information.

phatic communication


Coined by anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942).

Coined by Malinowski from the Greek phatos, from phanai (to speak), which also gave us prophet and aphasia (loss of ability to speak or understand language as a result of an injury)

When you bump into your neighbor on your way out and say, "How are ya?" you're engaging in phatic communion. The idea is not to inquire your neighbor's state of affairs but simply to create a feeling of shared goodwill. Later, at work, when you discuss weather with someone at the water cooler, it's the same idea.


"When I saw the transcript of that G8 conference conversation between President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, my first thought was that it read not so much like a conversation between statesmen as the phatic gruntings of a pair of teenage Kevins." — Jane Shilling; Plenty of Chatter Masks a Dearth of Conversation; The Times (London, UK); Jul 21, 2006.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Curses, like chickens, come home to roost

"And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest" Chaucer 1390

Curses coming home to roost

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Melioidosis (also called Whitmore disease or Nightcliff gardener's disease) is an infectious disease caused by a Gram-negative bacterium, Burkholderia pseudomallei, found in soil and water. It is of public health importance in endemic areas, particularly in Thailand and northern Australia. It exists in acute and chronic forms. Symptoms may include pain in chest, bones, or joints; cough; skin infections, lung nodules and pneumonia.

Rome Sayings

Fiddling while Rome burns

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

Rome wasn't built in a day

All roads lead to Rome

Going over to Rome (converting to Catholicism - British saying)


See Rome and die (No such saying)

The actual Italian proverb is "See Naples (Napoli) and die." The idea is that Naples has everything, and when you've visited it you have really lived life to the full; there is nothing more to experience. The saying dates from when Naples was more of a national and cultural centre in Italy than it is now. (For instance, it is close to the ancient and now-extinct city of Pompeii.) Today if we think of the "ultimate place" to visit in Italy, we might well think of Rome, as people would have done 2000 years ago; this is one reason why the saying is often misquoted as "See Rome and die."

Along with this the number of other Rome sayings can lead people to think this would be another.




fó zhēng yī zhù xiāng ,rén zhēng yī kǒu qì

(english translation coming) (Buddha has incense business man attached to money)



lù yáo zhī mǎ lì,rì jiǔ jiàn rén xīn

As distance tests a horse's strength, so time reveals a person's heart

Wednesday, February 16, 2011



gǒu yǎo lǚ dòng bīn, bu shí hǎo​​ rén xīn

The goodness of a person is of no consequence to the ungrateful.

translation = "A dog biting Lu Dongbin / not being able to recognize a kind-hearted man"

八仙过海 bā xiān guò hǎi

八仙过海 bā xiān guò hǎi

Like the Eight Immortals crossing the sea, each one showing his or her special prowess

八仙的故事 (The story of the Eight Immortals)

The Eight Immortals

Lu Dongbin 吕洞宾
He Xiangu 何仙姑
Cao Guojiu 曹国舅
Han Xiangzi韩湘子
Tieguai Li 铁拐李
Lan Caihe 蓝采和
Zhang Guolao 张果老
Han Zhongli 汉锺离

八仙桌 bā xiān zhuō

八仙桌 bā xiān zhuō

Old fashioned square table to seat eight people

In China, a traditional big square table usually dines eight persons

zuo tian ni zhai na li

zuo tian ni zhai na li

zuo tian 昨天

yesterday you where go

Where were you yesterday?

女大十八变 nǚ dà shí bā biàn

女大十八变 (simplified, Pinyin nǚ dà shí bā biàn, traditional 女大十八變)

Literally: The eighteen changes of a grown woman.

All of the changes that a girl makes when turning into a woman; blossom into womanhood


When she was small, momma Xu was thoroughly distressed about her own daughter's homely appearance. But after having blossomed into womanhood, Little S has become a statuesque little swan.

* 2005: Ma Chiyuan (马驰原), 新浪读书 ( literature page)

红颜祸水 Hong(3) Yan(2) Huo(4) Shui(3)

红 颜 祸 水 Hong(3) Yan(2) Huo(4) Shui(3)

Women are the root of trouble. /No war without a woman./ Women are the snares of Satan./Women are the devil's nets.

Sullivan's Island - Charlston

Holding stage for slaves entering America.

Sullivan's Island was the disembarkation port for over 40% (ca. 200,000) of the slaves traded to the Britain's North American Colonies, making it the largest slave port in North America. It is estimated that nearly half of all African Americans had ancestors that passed through Sullivan's Island.

Slaves who spoke different languages were put together to minimise collaboration and resistance.

In December 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union, and the Federal garrison abandoned Fort Moultrie for the stronger Sumter. Three and a half months later, Confederate troops shelled Sumter into submission, plunging the nation into civil war. In April 1863, Federal iron-clads and shore batteries began a 20-month bombardment of Sumter and Moultrie, yet Charleston’s defenses held. When the Confederate army evacuated the city in February 1865, Fort Sumter was little more than a pile of rubble and Fort Moultrie lay hidden under the band of sand that protected its walls from Federal shells. The new rifled cannon used during the Civil War had demolished the brick-walled fortifications.

déjà vu / deja entendu / jamais vu

déjà vu = seen before

déjà entendu = heard before

jamais vu = never seen - is the phenomenon of experiencing a situation that one recognises but that nonetheless seems very unfamiliar

Déjà Vu, the feeling that you have been in the same place experiencing the same thing, is something that has affected all of us at one point or another, or another. Now researchers have uncovered a possible reason for the occurrence, though the explanation comes as little surprise to those experiencing the phenomenon again and again.

“Many parallels between explanations of déjà vu and theories of human recognition memory exist,” said Anne Cleary of Colorado State University. “Theories of familiarity-based recognition and the laboratory methods used to study it may be especially useful for elucidating the processes underlying déjà vu experiences.”

A report published in Current Directions in Psychological Science states that déjà vu occurs when a current situation resembles a situation that has previously occurred in one’s life. When multiple elements of the two situations overlap, the feeling of familiarity is sparked.

“What we found was that people retain fragments of memory and they then subconsciously reconstruct the occurrence,” continued Cleary. “The mind fills in the gaps and it appears as though an event is reoccurring, but it is an entirely new happening.”

A report published in Current Directions in Psychological Science states that déjà vu occurs when a current situation resembles a situation that has previously occurred in one’s life. When multiple elements of the two situations overlap, the feeling of familiarity is sparked.

jamais vu

"There is another experience worth mentioning; jamais vu. Its the opposite of deja vu. Instead of feeling extra familiar, thing seem totally unfamiliar. In this case there is too little connection between long-term memory and perceptions from the present. When a person is in this state, nothing they experience seems to have anything to do with the past. They might be talking to a person they know well and suddenly they person seems totally unfamiliar. Their sense of knowing the person, and knowing how to relate to them simply vanishes. A room in which they spend a lot of time suddenly becomes totally novel; everything seems new. Details they will have seen a thousand times suddenly become engaging."
--from "Deja Vu in Spiritual and Scientific Views,"

Lazaretto / Lazaret

A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be:
  • ships permanently at anchor,
  • isolated islands,
  • or mainland buildings.
Until 1908, lazarets were also used for disinfecting postal items, usually by fumigation. A leper colony administered by a Christian religious order was often called a lazar house, after the parable of Lazarus the Beggar.

The first lazaret was established by Venice in 1403 on Santa Maria di Nazareth (also called "Nazaretum" or "Lazaretum", today "Lazzaretto Vecchio"), an island in the Venetian Lagoon .45°24′22″N 12°21′36″E / 45.406°N 12.36°E / 45.406; 12.36. Additionally there is Lazzaretto Nuovo, also in the lagoon.

See also: Quarantine


The word Quarantine comes from the Italian (seventeenth century Venetian) quarantena, meaning forty-day period. Quarantine can be applied to humans, but also to animals of various kinds.

The small island of Lazzaretto Vecchio (formerly known as Santa Maria di Nazareth), in the south part of the Venetian lagoon, was a quarantine colony for those with bubonic plague during the 14th-15th centuries.

Levitticus 13

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 2 "When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a bright spot on his skin that may become an infectious skin disease, he must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest. 3 The priest is to examine the sore on his skin, and if the hair in the sore has turned white and the sore appears to be more than skin deep, it is an infectious skin disease. When the priest examines him, he shall pronounce him ceremonially unclean. 4 If the spot on his skin is white but does not appear to be more than skin deep and the hair in it has not turned white, the priest is to put the infected person in isolation for seven days. 5 On the seventh day the priest is to examine him, and if he sees that the sore is unchanged and has not spread in the skin, he is to keep him in isolation another seven days. 6 On the seventh day the priest is to examine him again, and if the sore has faded and has not spread in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is only a rash. The man must wash his clothes, and he will be clean. 7 But if the rash does spread in his skin after he has shown himself to the priest to be pronounced clean, he must appear before the priest again. 8 The priest is to examine him, and if the rash has spread in the skin, he shall pronounce him unclean; it is an infectious disease.

See also: Lazaretto

Monday, February 14, 2011


Myriophyllum (water milfoil) is a genus of about 45 species of freshwater aquatic plants, with a cosmopolitan distribution. Its name comes from Latin, "myrio" meaning "too many to count", and "phyllum", meaning "leaf".

Because it is widely distributed and difficult to control, milfoil is considered to be the most problematic plant in parts of America. The introduction of milfoil can drastically alter a water body's ecology. Milfoil forms very dense mats of vegetation on the surface of the water. These mats interfere with recreational activities such as swimming, fishing, water skiing, and boating. Milfoil interferes with power generation and irrigation by clogging water intakes. The sheer mass of plants can cause flooding and the stagnant mats can create good habitat for mosquitoes. Milfoil mats can rob oxygen from the water by preventing the wind from mixing the oxygenated surface waters to deeper water. The dense mats of vegetation can also increase the sedimentation rate by trapping sediments.


"By autumn 1987, the job interviews revealed that “like” was no longer a mere slang usage. It had mutated from hip preposition into the verbal milfoil that still clogs spoken English today."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Blue Backed Speller - Noah Webster

This speller involved the spelling out of syllables and is believed to have contributed to the shaping of the American accent through this sounding out e.g. ce met e ry (instead of British sound 'cemetry') and la bo ra tor y (instead of British sound 'laboratry),

It also marked the break in speeling from the British with Webster deciding to simplify various British words such as colour/color, waggon/wagon.

Qingming Festival 清明节 Qīng míng jié

The Qingming Festival
Pinyin: Qīng míng jié
Simplified Chinese: 清明节;
Traditional Chinese: 清明節;
Ching Ming Festival in Hong Kong,
Vietnamese language: Tết Thanh Minh),

Pure Brightness Festival or Clear Bright Festival, Ancestors Day or Tomb Sweeping Day is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice (or the 15th day from the Spring Equinox), usually occurring around April 5 of the Gregorian calendar (see Chinese calendar). Astronomically it is also a solar term (See Qingming).

The Qingming festival falls on the first day of the fifth solar term, named Qingming. Its name denotes a time for people to go outside and enjoy the greenery of springtime (踏青 Tàqīng, "treading on the greenery") and tend to the graves of departed ones.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pièce de résistance

Pièce de résistance

[French : pièce, piece + de, of, with + résistance, staying power, lastingness.]

Noun    1.    piece de resistance - the outstanding item (the prize piece or main exhibit) in a collection

        collector's item, showpiece
        curio, curiosity, oddment, peculiarity, rarity, oddity - something unusual -- perhaps worthy of collecting
       rariora - (plural) rare collector's items

    2.    piece de resistance - the most important dish of a meal

          dish - a particular item of prepared food; "she prepared a special dish for dinner"

Pièce de résistance is a French term (circa 1839), translated into English literally as "piece of resistance", referring to the best part or feature of something (as in a meal), a showpiece, or highlight. It can be thought of as the portion of a creation which defies (i.e. "resists") orthodox or common conventions and practices, thereby making the whole of the creation unique and special. The phrase gives the sense that the referred-to element is the most outstanding, notable, or defining of the collection. For example:

    Even with a diverse movie and television portfolio, Burnett's pièce de résistance will likely forever be The Carol Burnett Show.

Originally, the pièce de résistance was the most substantial dish in a meal, but now the term generally refers to quality, not quantity.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ceteris Paribus

Ceteris Paribus

All things being equal (all other things being equal)

ceteris = the other, remainder, rest
paribus = par = equal
Pronounce = SET-uhr-is PAR-uh-buhs ('c'eteris as in Ceaser)
Pronounce US = KAY-tuhr-uhs PAR-uh-buhs

Latin phrase, literally translated as "with other things the same," or "all other things being equal or held constant." It is an example of an ablative absolute and is commonly rendered in English as "all other things being equal." A prediction, or a statement about causal or logical connections between two states of affairs, is qualified by ceteris paribus in order to acknowledge, and to rule out, the possibility of other factors that could override the relationship between the antecedent and the consequent.